Northern Plains Reservation Aid (formerly American Indian Relief Council)
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Success Stories

Brutal and Historical Winters

Rocky Boy Road
In 1916, an Arctic cold front slammed through Browning, Montana dropping the temp from 44 degrees F to 56 degrees F in 24 hours — a dramatic change of 100 degrees!

Montana is privy to some of the worst winter weather that the Northern Plains has to offer. If September is an indication of what the winter will bring, Elders living on Montana Indian Reservations will need to be extra prepared this year!

The American Indian Relief Council (AIRC) Program’s Winter Fuel service has been supporting Montana’s tribal Elders for several years: Rocky Boy 2008-2009; Blackfeet 2012-2013, and now Northern Cheyenne 2014-2015. Resources have been placed in these tribal areas, because Montana is notorious for bad snow storms.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with the National Weather Service compiled a list of the Top Ten Weather/Water/Climate Events of the 20th Century:

5. On January 24, 1916, an Arctic cold front slammed through Browning, Montana (Blackfeet Reservation) dropping the temperature from 44 degrees Fahrenheit to 56 BELOW in just a 24-hour period. This dramatic change of 100 degrees stands as the biggest 24-hour drop in temperature ever recorded in history. 1916 was also significant to a neighboring tribe to the east in that the Rocky Boy Chippewa Cree Tribe was established that year.

7. A spring storm that hit in late April, 1969 reported a 32-inch snow accumulation in Sonnette, MT (just 30 miles southeast of Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The day before, many weather stations reported their highest temperature of the month in the 80’s! But a cold front pounded Montana bringing blizzard conditions. A 50-degree drop in temperature in a day coupled with below zero wind chills built up snow drifts as high as 20 feet. A 12-county area suffered from downed power lines and some were without power for two weeks and double that length in phone service. Much like the Atlas storm that hit western South Dakota in October 2013, the livestock loss of cattle, sheep, and horses toppled 100,000. Map
Picture borrowed from

Winter has already come to the area this year. This map from shows three day snowfall totals from September 9-12, 2014 in the northern Rockies and High Plains area. East Glacier is right next to the Blackfeet tribe, and the central lower portion with blue snowfall is near the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations.

And to further verify the winter to come... the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac shows that the coldest winter weather can be found from the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes areas, with temperatures that could drop to 40 below during the coldest outbreak — the final week of January into the beginning of February.

The American Indian Relief Council (AIRC) Program’s Winter Fuel service is necessary to combat the cold, frigid winters in Montana. By taking a brief look at history and likely winter weather to come, supporting the Northern Cheyenne for their Winter Fuel needs is a good thing.

Thank you for helping to make this service possible!

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